STUDY II Corinthians
12:11-21 (click here for
I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-aposltes," even though I am nothing. The things that mark an apostle-signs, wonders and miracles-were done among you with great perseverance. How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, burt parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everyuthing I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you? I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending oursleves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, ourtbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (NIV)
In this passage Paul begins to summarize the depth of his concern for the Corinthians. He also voices his fear that he will find them unrepentant when he comes to them and that they will resent him. His personal suffering over the condition of these people is achingly clear.
1. Paul summarizes his previous "boasting" by stating again that he's made a fool of himself. Based on what we've learned from these last two chapters, what does Paul mean when he says, "You drove me to it"? (see 2 Corinthians 11:1-5, 10-15)
2. Now Paul again reminds the Corinthians of the external evidence that marked his apostleship as genuine-signs, wonders and miracles. His implication is that the "super-apostles" came to them without these signs. What was the purpose of these signs in the true apostles' ministries? (see Hebrews 2:2-4; M ark 16:20; John 4:48)
3. With some sarcasm Paul also reminds the Corinthians that he had never been a burden to them. What point, apparently in stark contrast to the charismatic and self-seeking "super apostles", is Paul making by this statement? (see 1 Corinthians 9:12-18)
4. Who supported Paul while he was with the Corinthians if they didn't do it, and what is signficant about support from these people? (see 11:7-9; 8:1-5)
5. In this passage Paul is again addressing the accusation that he has been trying to get money for himself through his ministry to the Corinthians. To what spiritual and emotional tie between them does Paul again appeal? (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-15; Proverbs 19:14)
6. What does Paul mean when he says he will gladly expend himself for the Corinthians? (see also Philippians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12; 1 John 3:16)
7. "If I love you more, will you love me less?" Paul asks in verse 15. What perversity of human nature does this ironic question point out?
8. In verse 16 Paul directly addresses the character slurs the false apostles have been making about him. "Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!" They accused Paul of pretending to organize a collection for the believers in Jerusalem while secretly pocketing the money for himself. Therefore, they implied, he could afford not to charge the Corinthians when he preached the gospel to them. Whom had Paul put in charge of collecting the Corinthians' offering? (see 2 Corinthians 8:16-24)
9. What is ironic about the false apostles' accusations about Paul, and how do those claims reveal the truth about these pretenders? (see 11:13-14; 20)
Not For Himself
10. Paul insists, in verse 19, that his defense is not for his own sake but for the Corinthians' strengthening. In what ways will his defense of his ministry benefit them? (see 10:8; Romans 14:19; 15:2-6; 1 Corinthians 14:3, 26; Ephesians 4:14,15; Philippians 4:8-9)11.
11. Why does Paul not defend himself to protect his own reputation? (see 1 Corinthians 4:3-4; 2 Corinthians 10:18; Matthew 5:11-12)
12. To what precedent does Paul refer when he says he fears he may find "quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder" when he comes to Corinth? (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; 6:9-11)
13. What does Paul mean when he says he fears the Corinthians may not find him as they want him? (see 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2:1)
14. What is the relationship of good behavior to being born again? (see Galatians 5:16-26; Romans 8:10-15; Philippians 2:1-4; 4:4-9; Colossianss 3-1-14)
15. What does Paul mean when he says he fears God will humble him before them (v.21)?
17. In what ways do you struggle with people misrepresenting you and with feeling the need to defend yourself?
18. How do you determine whether or not a leader, self-proclaimed or appointed, is deceptive or has integrity?
19. What do you do when you find yourself under the authority of someone who is untrustworthy?
20. In what areas of your life are you unrepentant or unsurrendered?
21. What person do you need to surrender to Jesus, asking him to deal with their dishonesty and/or their misrepresentation of you?
22. What chronic or persistent behaviors or desires do you have that are opposed to your new life in Christ?
23. Ask God to give you his wisdom and to help you to love others for him. Ask him to help you know how to respond to those who treat you dishonestly. Ask him to be your defense and to protect you from evil while teaching you to trust him. Ask him to take the rebellion and greed from your heart and to give you peace in him, resting in his defense and protection of you.
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted March 4, 2003.